Citizenship criterion is element of policy in more than 70 per cent of coffee shop municipalities

In more than 70 per cent of the 103 municipalities with coffee shops the so-called citizenship criterion is or will become an element of the coffee shop policy. This appears from the score to date relating to the details of the enforcement of the coffee shop policy that has been tightened up and the local customisation that is applied where necessary in the coffee shop municipalities.

Minister Opstelten of Security and Justice informed the House of Representatives in a letter about this score to date of the tightened coffee shop policy. The objective of the tightened coffee shop policy is to combat the nuisance caused by drugs tourism. Monitoring of the citizenship criterion is usually included in the periodical inspections of coffee shops in the coffee shop municipalities, whereby the other aspects of the policy of tolerance are also monitored. The local triangle determines on grounds of the local situation the priority with which the different aspects of the coffee shop policy are enforced.

Coffee shops in the provinces of Limburg, North Brabant and Zeeland have already been checking since 1 May 2012 whether their clients are citizens of the Netherlands. The citizenship criterion has been an element of the national framework of the Dutch policy of tolerance since 1 January 2013. The accompanying basic principle is that the local authorities set the coffee shop policy - within the national framework - and are responsible for executing the policy. Enforcement of the citizenship criterion takes place under consultation with the municipalities in question and, as necessary, in phases, whereby it is included in the local coffee shop and security policy, leading to a local tailor-made solution.

The membership-only club criterion - which also went under the names of 'club pass' and 'weed pass' - was abandoned in November 2012 because it appeared that drugs tourists were kept away sufficiently by means of the citizenship criterion. Minister Opstelten also wanted to remove the threshold for citizens to be able to purchase cannabis from coffee shops. It appeared last year in the south of the country that there was opposition to becoming a member of a coffee shop. By abandoning the members-only club criterion, the nuisance caused by the illegal (street) trade has been combated.

Enforcement of the tightened coffee shop policy in the southern provinces since 1 May 2012 can be seen from the data provided by the police, the Public Prosecution Service and the (regional) mayors. After an initial peak in May 2012 of reported incidents in trade and nuisance in connection with (soft) drugs, a decreasing trend can be seen through the targeted input and alertness of the police, the Public Prosecution Service and the municipalities. According to Minister Opstelten, it is important to keep up the firm approach so that the decreasing trend will continue.

Furthermore, 18 municipalities have already submitted a reaction towards making an inventory of municipal initiatives and experiments in the area of cannabis cultivation. In more than half of the reactions, however, there is no plan worked out in detail. Within the foreseeable future the municipalities in question will be invited for consultations so that they can explain the details of their plans. In order to prevent misunderstandings, the Minister emphasises hereby that regulating or legalising the cultivation of cannabis is contrary to international treaties (UN treaties and EU legislation) and the Opium Act (Opiumwet). ,,There is no space for municipal initiatives that deviate from this approach’’, Opstelten is quoted as saying.